33rd Anniversary of his Death: Nahuel Moreno and the Revolutionary Organization

“We are going to remember him, we are going to remember comrade Moreno, building the party and the International”, militants sing at each tribute to the founder of our Trotskyist current, synthesizing in those few words the core of his legacy.

Much has been written about Moreno´s contributions and also about his mistakes. But even the most critical have had to recognize that Nahuel built a great revolutionary party, deeply embedded in the labor movement, so much so, that even Ubaldini (General Secretary of the Argentine CGT 1980-1992) was concerned about our organization´s insertion in delegate bodies and local union commissions of many establishments in the 1980s.

As he said himself in a long interview, Moreno dedicated the bulk of his life and militancy to the construction of the International, the Fourth International. This was recognized by Belgian revolutionary Ernest Mandel, leader of the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International and perhaps one of the Trotskyist leaders with whom Moreno most debated: “With him disappears one of the last representatives of the handful of leading cadres who, after of World War II, maintained the continuity of Leon Trotsky’s struggle.”(1)

From the Beginning: the Need for the Party

In the 1940s, a young Hugo Miguel Bressano Capacete (2) decided to break with the intellectual circles of local Trotskyism, confronting his teacher Liborio Justo, better known as “Quebracho” and move into the working-class neighborhood of Villa Pobladora, in Avellaneda, with a group of young militants, where they founded the GOM (Marxist Workers Group).

But the urgent, the immediate, task today, like before, is: approaching the proletarian vanguard and rejecting any attempt to deviate from this line as opportunist, even if it is presented as a possible task,” he wrote in the pamphlet The Party, published in 1944. He debated with those who argued that there were other tasks or formulas that would postpone the task of linking the group to workers’ struggles and to start building a party. He drew a line in the sand between intellectuals or propagandists and revolutionary militants.

The construction of the party and the International, the necessary tools to overcome the crisis of revolutionary leadership of humanity, paraphrasing the Transition Program that Trotsky wrote in 1938, was the fight to which he dedicated his life. In our country, different organizations, whose history exceeds the scope of this article, mark that trajectory: GOM, POR, Buenos Aires Federation of the PSRN, Palabla Obrera, PRT La Verdad, PST, the old MAS. They were the predecessors of our current MST.

In struggle against the different currents that nested among the workers and the vanguard of the time – Stalinists, anarchists, social democrats, then bourgeois nationalists, guerrillas – he stubbornly upheld the decision to build a revolutionary party among the workers, participating in their struggles and in those of the oppressed classes of our country. With a program that encouraged permanent mobilization against the defenders of local capitalism and imperialism, he created a deeply internationalist organization that combined the greatest internal democracy at the time of debate, with the greatest discipline when action was to be taken.

Against revisionism

The construction of the party was a struggle that he took up with hundreds of cadres and thousands of militants, in the field of daily construction and also in the ideological struggle. In the IV, he fought against those who denied the construction of the party and tried to change the character of the International.

In the 1953 Congress, the fraction headed by leaders Michael Pablo and Ernest Mandel decided a “ten-year entryism” in the communist parties and other organizations that opposed the development of the socialist revolution, under the prognosis that the Third World War was coming and the old treacherous organizations were going to change their nature, thus abandoning the task of building the party. Then, once they finished the “entryist” tactic, Mandel resigned the construction of Trotskyist parties independent of the old apparatuses, diluting them in each “progressive” current or phenomenon that came along, be it Castroism, bourgeois or petty bourgeois nationalists who had friction with imperialism.

The international

Hugo always stressed the need for Trotskyists to be part of the construction of a revolutionary international and its irreplaceable role. For Morenism, Trotskyism is synonymous to militant internationalism. An international leadership, for Moreno, however weak it may be, will always be stronger than a national leadership. And this was the key battle of his life.

He fought against those who were “internationalists” only in words, against models that like the PO, which never progressed from having some minor satellite groups around a mother party, or those who, like the United Secretariat, ended up putting together a lax federation with no intention of making it a World Party for action. He carried out strong debates even against circumstantial allies, which, like the SWP (3), accompanied him in the fight against Mandelist liquidationism, but refused to work to build an alternative leadership.

For Moreno, the regrouping of the IV after the Second War and its reunification after the Cuban Revolution, were very positive events, in which he actively participated. In the fight for a correct international policy, he developed different constructions together with other Trotskyist leaders. They had different names and experiences: SLATO, TLT, Bolshevik Fraction, CICI, the early LIT-CI.

Our current left a mark on Latin American history, supporting the Cuzco uprising, led by then-militant of our organization Hugo Blanco in the 1960s, we were part of the founders of the PT in Brazil in the 1980s, we organized the Simón Bolívar Brigade that fought in the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979, among other experiences.

His Legacy Today

Moreno died before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the three decades since his death, many things have happened in the world. Some events confirmed his teachings, others demonstrated some of his forecasts mistaken. The fall of so-called “real socialism” cleared the world counterrevolutionary apparatus of Stalinism from the path. But the lack of a revolutionary alternative meant that the triumph that the fall of the old totalitarian regimes meant could not move towards socialism with workers democracy, and instead capitalism was restored by the hands of the bureaucratic caste.

Huge confusion spread through the global mass movement, which saw socialism associated with bureaucratic monstrosity, and that confusion spread to large sectors of the anti-Stalinist militancy, and among the left in general, including Trotskyism, which developed a strong skepticism. “Horizontalism”, the “non dispute of power”, the identification of Leninist teachings with Stalinism, are hard obstacles to overcome. Mandel’s heirs now dismiss the need to build revolutionary parties, diluting their Trotskyist forces into “broad anti-capitalist parties” that have resulted in failures and betrayals like Podemos in Spain or Syriza in Greece.

The neoliberal offensive of the ’90s failed to crush workers´ resistance and the huge capitalist crisis of 2008 came to clear the clouds, demolishing the lie that there would be never ending capitalism. The answer to the exploiters´ offensive was the unleashing of uprisings and revolutions. In these months, the planet experiences an important wave of these struggles with the youth at the head, from the Middle East to Latin America, through the great French strike or the Hong Kong uprising.

From the MST in the International Socialist League, we maintain that the best way to honor our teacher is to maintain that “the urgent, the immediate, task today, like before, is: approaching the vanguard” of the struggles to build great revolutionary socialist parties and the International.

Gustavo Gimenez

1. Message from Mandel to Nahuel Moreno´s funeral act, January 1987.
2. Nahuel was the pseudonym which Liborio Justo gave him and means “tiger”.
3. Socialist Workers Party: organization of US Trotskyism of that time.